The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) was saddened to hear of the passing of leading Aboriginal academic, Professor Dennis McDermott last Friday, 3 April. The Institute would like to extend our deepest condolences to Dennis’ family, friends and everyone who is mourning this tragic loss.
Professor McDermott was Koori man from Gomeroi Country, in north-western New South Wales, with connections to Gadigal country. As a psychologist, academic and poet, Professor McDermott dedicated himself to improving the lives and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Professor McDermott was the inaugural Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) at La Trobe University and played key advisory roles on the research project, Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory: Documenting and Preserving the Records and Memories, and more recently, in the review of the AIATSIS Code of Ethics roundtable.
AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie said that Professor McDermott would be dearly missed, and the impact of his work and his leadership would continue to inspire people for generations.
“Dennis was an outstanding educator and an empathetic leader, whose wisdom and kindness made a lasting impression on everyone he met. He played a key role in fostering the partnership between La Trobe University and AIATSIS for the Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory project. This project, like many Dennis was involved in, ensured that Indigenous voices were central to decision making and lasting outcomes for Indigenous people”, Mr Ritchie said.
In his career, Professor McDermott has worked extensively in the areas of early childhood, social determinants of Indigenous health, racism, incarceration, policy, equity, Indigenous social, spiritual and emotional well-being, workforce development, Indigenous health pedagogy, and the nexus of culture and context in service delivery.
He was a member of numerous academic and government advisory committees, a decorated poet and an Honorary Fellow – He Pūkenga Taiea: Te Mata o te Tau - Academy for Maori Research and Scholarship.
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